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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Orange Fig Buttermilk Bran Muffins

One of the things I love about bran muffins is that they are so choke-full of good things it almost seems disingenuous to call them "muffins." These muffins have a rustic, hearty taste that is a far cry from the sugary, buttery, over-sized muffins being pimped to us from every coffee counter. On the other hand, this version of my bran muffins has a subtle orange that plays off the chopped figs in a way that is just a little bit refined. These are satisfying enough to eat for breakfast, healthy enough to take as a snack to work, and tasty enough to serve to company.

The first time I ever made bran muffins, I used this recipe from I have been experimenting with bran muffins for almost four years now, and I find them so satisfying and healthy that I try to make a batch every month or two. These muffins are so quick to make you can really make them any time. Last night around 9 PM I got the hankering, and I was able to assemble them in about 15 minutes, and then bake them. Thirty minutes after the urge struck, there were warm muffins filling my house with the aromatic scent of oranges and spice. Of all the different deviations I've cooked up over the years, these new orange fig buttermilk bran muffins may just be my favorite yet.

This recipe is heading over to Coffee and Vanilla who is hosting this week's Weekend Herb Blogging.

About Figs

When you eat these muffins, who knew you were eating a little piece of history? Figs are mentioned in the Bible, most famously in connection with the Garden of Eden. They are also mentioned throughout the Qur'an. These canonical references are probably due to the ancient roots of this middle eastern plant. The edible fig was one of the first food crops cultivated by humans, and evidence of its cultivation has been found in early human settlements going back to almost 10,000 B.C. This makes its cultivation earlier than that of wheat or barley, and some suggest the fig may be the first incidence of human agriculture.

Figs are a great vegetable source of calcium, and also have beta-carotene and vitamin C. Figs are also a better source of fiber than any other dried fruit.

For anyone who is a word of the day fan, you might be interested in this little tidbit from wikipedia: "The word "sycophant" actually meaning 'showing the figs' was used in ancient Greece for those who informed against another for exporting figs (which was forbidden by law) or for stealing the fruit of the sacred fig-trees."

Orange Fig Buttermilk Bran Muffins

Sourcing Ingredients
I get my wheat bran, ground flax and oats from the bulk bins at whole foods. They may also be available at your local health foods store. If you cannot find the ground flax seed, sub in another 2 Tbsp of flour.

If you do not have buttermilk on hand, heat 1.25 cups of milk until slightly warmed and stir in 1 Tbsp of white vinegar. Do this immediately before adding into the recipe.

If you prefer, you can sub 2 Tbsp of oil for the applesauce for a richer crumb.

Calimyrna figs have golden skin and a more nutty flavor. If you can't find them, use regular figs.

Makes 12-14 muffins


1 cup wheat bran
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons ground flax seed
4 Tablespoons old fashioned oats
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1.25 cups low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 large egg
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (preferably Mexican)
1/4 teaspoon cloves
Zest from one orange, (preferably organic)
1/2 cup dried Calimyrna figs, chopped


In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: bran, flour, flax, baking soda and salt.

Zest the orange with a microplane zester. In a separate medium bowl, combine wet ingredients: buttermilk, sugar, applesauce, egg, oil, extract, cloves and zest. Whisk with a wire whisk until frothy.

Add wet ingredients into the dry. Using large strokes, mix until just combined. Do not overmix. Add chopped dried figs, mix just to combine.

Line muffin tin with muffin liners. Distribute batter evenly among 12-14 muffin tins. Bake in the center of the oven on 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes. If you press muffin top gently and it forms a depression without springing back, give them another minute and check again. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Nutritional Information per muffin (14 muffins):


diva said...

wow, i absolutely love wholesome muffins and like to have them around in the mornings for breakfast. this is a keeper! cheers! x

Dani Spies said...

Yum...I love bran muffins too! Can't wait to try this recipe:).

Chez US said...

Thank you for visiting our site and welcome back to the States! Look forward to reading more about the skinny gourmet!

Sarah said...

Serendipitously, I have wheat bran and dried figs in my pantry that need to be used. I'm on a mission to clean out my pantry because we are going to be moving.
I'm impressed at how healthy these bran muffins are, virtually guilt free!

Astra Libris said...

Orange fig?! Mmmmmm, WOW! YUM! I love the word of the day tidbit, too... :-)

Erin said...

Diva and Dani, glad to hear you liked the recipe. I am chomping on one now (deliciously reheated). I'd love to hear how they turned out.

Chez, it was fun finding your site and I look forward to following more of your culinary adventures.

Sarah, I'm loving the coincidence of bran and figs in your cupboard. And as someone who has moved to Africa for six months both this year and last year, I know all about those odd clean out your pantry efforts. Glad to contribute (and without guilt)

Astra, orange fig indeed. I'm not entirely sure where the inspiration for that came from, but I am pleased how well they go together. And I have a geeky thing for word origin too. Glad you liked that.

Anonymous said...

I ventured to your site from the WW recipe review board. I can't wait to make this recipe!! Now that I've found your blog, I will go over all your recipe posts since you seem to be quite the chef. Thanks for posting the link to this!

Julie said...

These sound so delicious. A perfect and complete breakfast. Do you know if they freeze well?

Erin said...

Marcia, glad you enjoyed the site! I try to post WW friendly recipes on here, and attempt to post nutritional info with each of my recipes.

Julie, I confess I have no idea about freezing them. Why? because here I am eating another heated muffin for an afternoon snack. In truth they have never lasted in my house long enough to have to freeze them. I imagine if you wrapped them well they would freeze fairly well.

Deborah said...

My husband and I were just discussing muffins this past weekend, and I commented about how I hadn't had a good homemade bran muffin since I was a kid. These would certainly cure my craving!

bleeding espresso said...

Oh these look fabulous! I love fig in anything :)

Coffee & Vanilla said...

Delicious entry :) Thank you.

Erin said...

Deborah-I love these muffins. I have been making slight variations on them for years, and this is my favorite. If you like a very moist muffin and fat is not a big concern, I would sub some or all of the applesauce out with and equal or slightly greater amount of oil. However I generally feel that the applesauce version comes out more moist. I can't quite explain it.

Espresso-I am a big fan of figs too. One of my favorite pizzas (probably coming soon to this blog) uses fig. Savory or sweet they are amazing. And healthy!

Margot-Thanks for doing the roundup. I know it is a big job.

Kalyn said...

The muffins sound just delicious. I love figs, but never thought of using them like this.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

These look delicious and sound really healthful. A great choice for a quick and easy breakfast or snack!

ttfn300 said...

these were great, thanks for the recipe :)

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